In new Hispanic congressional district, Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia endorses state Rep. Delia Ramirez

“Delia is who I believe in,” Garcia told the Chicago Sun-Times.

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State Rep. Delia Ramirez, 4th congressional district Democratic primary candidate. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia — who leads a potent local progressive political operation — on Tuesday is endorsing state Rep. Delia Ramirez in her Democratic primary bid to represent the new Illinois Hispanic congressional district.

Garcia said he has known Ramirez for years — “I’ve been a mentor to her,” and she has been part of his campaign team and progressive coalition.

“Delia is who I believe in,” Garcia told the Chicago Sun-Times. “And I think that we need more Latinas in Congress.” At present there are 13 Latina members. “So it’s definitely time for them. And I hope my endorsement can make a difference.”

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Ramirez, an assistant majority leader in the House, has one main rival in the June 28 primary, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th). As of Dec. 31, Villegas raised $386,473 for his campaign and ended the year with $377,055 cash-on-hand.

Ramirez’s contributions totaled $113,218 and, as of Dec. 31, she had a balance of $110,443.

Asked what his endorsement will bring to Ramirez, Garcia said, “I will be involved in fundraising, helping her to make connections with potential donors in Washington D.C. Certainly there’s the potential for a Bernie endorsement as well. I will be exploring that with Bernie.”

The Bernie is Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, who Garcia is close to because he served as a national surrogate for Sanders in his two presidential campaigns. Sanders stumped for Garcia when he ran for Chicago mayor and Congress, with the two sharing a base of progressive, activist supporters.

Garcia said he will also be “pitching in with field and, of course, with strategy.”

The new 3rd District was designed by state Democratic mapmakers in the wake of the 2020 census to elect the second Hispanic member of Congress from Illinois.

The district — created to elect a Democrat — sweeps in parts of Chicago’s North and Northwest Side — Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale, Hermosa, Belmont Cragin — while meandering through suburban Cook and DuPage counties. The new 3rd takes in parts of suburban Franklin Park, Addison, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, West Chicago and Elgin.

Garcia represents the only Hispanic district currently in the state, created in 1992 by drawing an earmuff-shape district connecting Chicago’s Puerto Rican community on the North Side with Mexican-American areas on the South and Southwest Side.

In the new map, Garcia had to give up the North Side turf — most of that is in the new 3rd District.

Garcia will announce his endorsement at a news conference at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4046 W. Armitage Ave. Ramirez will also be endorsed by Cook County Board Member Alma Anaya and state Sen. Celina Villanueva at the session.

The daughter of immigrants, Ramirez, 38, is the first Guatemalan American to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. She was first elected to the state House in 2018.

The third Democrat in the 3rd District primary is Iyman Chehade, who figures in the ethics probe of Rep. Marie Newman. Chehade sued Newman alleging she backed out of a contract she signed in 2018 promising him a job in her House office if she were elected in 2020 — which she was. In exchange, he alleged in his lawsuit, he agreed not to run against her.

Newman is now a target of the House Ethics Committee looking into that contract deal. The lawsuit was settled, with the details sealed. Two days after the settlement — Chehade, a key witness in the case, was on her campaign payroll. He was paid $54,000 for part-time work for the last half of 2021.

Chehade raised $41,265 for his bid and had $38,846 cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

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